Electric Vehicle Tipping Point Coming in 2017?

11 months ago by Eric Loveday 26

Paul Scott at Santa Monica Nissan

Paul Scott at Santa Monica Nissan

Before we dive into the details of what was declared at EV Summit 2013, first we’ll let you in on some background.  The information below comes mainly from Paul Scott, so it’s time we introduce him to you.  Here’s his bio, as found on Plug In America’s website:

“Paul is a founding member of Plug In America and a long-time EV driver and advocate for renewable energy. Paul has worked in the film business for most of his career while keeping involved as a population activist and environmental activist. Paul currently works as a Nissan LEAF salesman for Nissan of Downtown Los Angeles. Paul is a former president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Southern California.”

Some Paul Scott Background

Some Paul Scott Background

With that out of the way, let’s now move on to this 2017 tipping point.

As Torque News points out, Paul Scott was on hand at EV Summit 2013.  Scott spoke of what Torque News calls a “massive upswing in electric car sales” or an “inflection point” as Scott calls it.

The inflection point is coming around 2017-ish, says Scott, who notes that the US is now home to well over 100,000 plug in vehicles.

Why in 2017?  The answer, at least to those who follow the electric vehicle industry, is obvious: Tesla’s affordable EV is supposedly coming around that time.

As Torque News states:

“The coming inflection point Paul Scott spoke of will come, he says, when Tesla delivers on its promise of the affordable mass production electric car, currently expected for the 2017 model year. They have to line up some technology partners to make that car feasible, but the company is repeatedly promising that it will have a 200+ mile electric range, will cost $35,000 MSRP (before any tax breaks), and that Tesla will be building those cars in the hundreds of thousands of units per year.”

If that all happens according to Tesla’s plan, then 2017 will definitely be when EV sales soar.  We’ll have our fingers crossed until then.  Don’t let us down Tesla.

Source: Torque News

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26 responses to "Electric Vehicle Tipping Point Coming in 2017?"

  1. Future Leaf Driver says:

    It’s also when all the 2nd gen models should be hitting the streets at below $30k.

    Whether it’s 2017 or earlier/later, that’s the tipping point…

  2. Lou Grinzo says:

    We’re very close to that price point right now. Take a Leaf S ($28,800) and double the battery pack at $400/kWh to get 200 miles/charge (I get 100/full charge on mine), and you’re very close to $35,000.

    And I disagree that a $35,000 car will trigger the tipping point for EVs in the US. That’s still too high simply because for the vast majority of US consumers an EV is not better than a gasoline vehicle (even though many of us here know it is better). They see it as a “compromise” or a choice with “drawbacks”, so it’s less attractive to them than a gasoline vehicle of roughly the same price, even for a 200 or 250 mile EV. The mass adoption price point is, I would guess, around $25,000, at least until more of the public learns about EVs.

    1. Chris O says:

      I agree that $25K is closer to the mark for mass adoption, but I don’t think a term like mass adoption should be confused with the topic of this articles which is about “tipping point/inflection point ” which I take to mean a phase of sudden acceleration in sales before mass adoption.

      1. Paul Scott says:

        Chris is correct. Mass adoption will come, that is a given. All one needs to do is consider 100 years from now, will we still be moving people around with internal combustion? Clearly no. We will have made the complete transition to using renewable energy (RE) long before that. We have to to avoid the worst of what climate change will do, not to mention the economic, national security and health problems inherent with ICE.

        The inflection point I discussed has to do with an attitudinal shift in the minds of most Americans, specifically the average car buyer. These people, while it might take them a few more years to actually aquire a plug in car, will come to the conclusion that electricity is better than ICE because of the 500,000-750,000 plug in cars already on the roads in 2017 proving their value every day. Those of us who drive the cars know that this is a better way to drive. The others are still getting mixed messages, positive from us, but very negative from the bozos at Fox News and “so-called environmentalists” like Ozzie Zehner. These people are slowing the adoption rate of EVs and should be castigated at every turn.

    2. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Let’s add on $5k for key options and Supercharging and make it $40k.

      Even then I think you’re missing key points. It would be a
      … long-range (i.e. more miles, suits more people)
      … BEV (i.e. cheap fuel, low maintenance)
      … with excellent performance (fast, BEV performance).

      That combination would be absolutely devastating on the market. When a car have strong appeal and is cheap to run all people have to ask themselves is “Can I afford to buy it?” rather than “Can I afford to buy it, insure it and run it?” and that will boost sales significantly. It would get sales from the large low-end luxury market, the more affluent mass market buyers and have broad appeal and get some people willing to focus and buy up.

      Once you get into the hundreds of thousands of sales per year, with popular appeal you’ll have a massive cultural impact that will change attitudes and break down barriers to home/street/apartment building/condo/HOA home charging and once that has happened the market will be there ready to provided expanded volume with every step down in cost.

  3. Nelson says:

    IMO, the tipping point will occur when 25% of the parking spaces at all; malls, hotels, movie complexes, municipal lots, shopping centers, and businesses have installed some form of charging station. (level1, level2, DC)
    Charging Stations at these locations would allow customers as well as employees to make the switch to EV’s less fearful of being stranded without a charge.

    NPNS!
    Volt#671

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Not necessary at all. Buy EREV/PHEV if you’re range anxious.

      Expanded ownership and demand will expand charging at home; long-range BEV drivers will use the ultra-fast chargers on long trips; and mid-range BEV drivers will use a fast charger in case of emergency due to once-a-year extreme conditions.

      Hotels will install chargers, because a hotel is a home-away-from-home but the rest will disappear and be replaced by fast chargers that drivers will only use in emergency. In the end, most public infrastructure just won’t be worth it because as soon as contention becomes a problem people will realize that choosing an inferior business because you save 50 cents to $1 on charging isn’t worth it.

  4. David Murray says:

    Yep – I agree. Other manufacturers know this is going to happen too, and many of them will want a piece of the pie. GM has a shot with its second generation Volt. Nissan has a shot with its Leaf, especially if the 2nd gen has some more range. We already know Toyota is working on a better PiP for 2015. I wouldn’t be surprised to see redesigned Ford Energi products by 2017 as well. The landscape will change a lot between now and then!

  5. Brian says:

    Mathematically, an inflection point is exactly what we DON’T want. An inflection point is a reversal of the curvature. Right now, EV sales are growing exponentially. An inflection point means sales will level off.

    I think the tipping point will be more like 2020. Even if Tesla follows through, it will be a car that starts at $40k, and goes up quickly in price with options (such as supercharging). That’s still a bit much for mainstream. Plus, while the car would be available starting in 2017, they aren’t likely to be able to build 200k/year until a year or two later. Add on that Tesla is the leader here and other manufacturers will follow, I suspect by 2020, you will find 200+ mile EVs in most dealerships sitting next to the ICEVs, with similar prices.

    1. Chris O says:

      No, according to Tesla it will be a car that starts at $35K before incentives. Maybe you don’t believe them, but you can’t just make up your own numbers.

      1. Brian says:

        To be fair, I hardly “made up my own numbers”. $40k is an educated guess. I’d love to see $35k, but I don’t expect to. Musk keeps referring to a 3-series BMW, which starts in the high 30s. Secondly, he is referring to 2012 dollars – in 2017, the price will be higher. Finally, he said “half the price of the Model S” which today starts at over $70k before tax credit. I’m sticking with my guess. You are free to believe $35k.

      2. Brent says:

        I don’t believe that Brian is just “making up numbers”. Tesla in the past has a had a starting price goal and has not met the goal. I think that the numbers Brian mentioned are in line with what happened with the model S.

    2. Paul Scott says:

      Brian, keep in mind that there are a lot of EVs out there now that will be replaced with new EVs in ever growing numbers. Of the 400+ LEAFs I’ve sold, I’d wager that less than 1% of those drivers will ever go back to driving ICE, but almost all of them will get a new/different plug in car as their current LEAF ages. These used plug in cars are already in the marketplace at price points that are very affordable. With each passing year, thousands more used plug ins enter the market and with each year, the cost of them goes down. Already over 70% of the American car buying public can afford a used LEAF ($17,000-$18,000). The average price of a new car sold in the U.S. is $30K, and you have to spend lots of money fueling and maintaining it. A used EV at $18K is like buying an ICE at $14K or less. Millions of Americans can afford that.

      1. Brian says:

        All true. But since we are talking about some nebulous “tipping point”, I suppose it’s all semantics. What do you consider an tipping point? For me, it’s the point where the average car buyer (i.e. the one who walks into a dealership not already knowing what they will buy) will begin buying EVs in serious numbers. I just think that it will take a few years with the second generation cars available for that to happen.

        Mathematically, we could define a tipping point where the curvature (second derivative) of the adoption curve makes a sudden turn upwards. But again, that is NOT an inflection point. The curve is accelerating. If we hit an inflection point, the rates would start to decelerate (even if they are still increasing). I sincerely hope nobody on here is hoping for that.

        1. Paul Scott says:

          Brian, I appreciate the correction on the semantics. I’ll start using the term “tipping point” from now on.

  6. Ocean Railroader says:

    I think the switching point will be when the EV range goes over 200 miles in a charge for a $30,000 car in that $35,000 is a little steep for me in terms in getting a car. Also I think the only thing holding down the EV’s right now is the range such as if they had a 150 mile ranged EV or a 200 mile EV that would really speed things up. In that in my area owning a 80 range EV with no fast charging stations is kind of risky.

    Another factor will be gas prices such as will we have $4.00 or $5.00 a gallon gas or in the worst case or if we have rolling gasloin shortages. But in terms of this I think this would move EV’s into the mass market.

    1. Foo says:

      “I think the switching point will be when the EV range goes over 200 miles in a charge for a $30,000 car in that $35,000 is a little steep for me in terms in getting a car.”

      Really? — even when you factor in about $10k saved in gasoline costs over 5 years? That makes a $35k EV equivalent to a $25k gasoline car over the same time period (and an ever better value if you increase the ownership period). Of course, you’ll need a more money up front, or a bigger loan, to buy the EV, but you also won’t be spending money on gasoline.

      I think this is what most people fail to realize… the compare EV car prices directly to ICE prices, while forgetting that, when buying an ICE, you’re also committing to shelling out $2k/year in gasoline costs!

      1. Koz says:

        And don’t forget about maintenance costs. Once EV’s have more of a track record and the likes of Consumer Reports can put numbers to long term maintenance costs, the EV MSRP’s will compare even better as long as predicted battery lives are born out. It will be interesting to see where used prices of 5-10 year old EV’s settle in as compared to their ICE and hybrid counterparts. Of course gas prices will have a lot to do with that too.

  7. George B says:

    Eric, great to see this. Would it be possible to link the term “EV Summit 2013″ back to our event summary? We hope to make it an annual tradition. As an aside, we are going to try for an EV record at NPID 2013 in Cupertino.

    http://sfbayleafs.org/past-events/2013/08/ev-summit-13/

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Hey George! I can do that for you…no problem.

      Also, if you are are looking to get the word out about the group, future events, or record attempts – we’d be happy to do that do. You know where to catch me, (=

      1. George B says:

        Thanks so much, Jay! Your news coverage is definitely appreciated, we will be in touch :-)

  8. Dan Frederiksen says:

    The future isn’t a given progression. It’s what we make it. What we beat the automakers into doing.
    Who Killed the Electric Car changed the world. Not a date.
    We are waiting for interesting EVs at workable prices. Simple as that. It can easily be done today as well as 4 years ago. The technology hasn’t really changed and wont change. It’s just a matter of when the dumb automakers get their heads in the game.

    For instance a 150km range 600kg Tesla Roadster with 6 minute half recharge at 25k$ would make a big difference. And this was possible 4 years ago.
    Every powerful example changes the world. Every embarrassment of the automakers and the incompetent corrupt governments, changes the world.
    Every time you meet an autoexec you ***** slap him repeatedly. That’s how we get change. Not by waiting for a date.

    1. Jeff D says:

      States should be held accountable as well. For every CARB state there are several that don’t do a thing for the environment or what the electric car can do for it or the economy. I live in Illinois and even though there are some EV bright spots ( Supercharger, number of electric vehicles in Normal), the state could do much more. There are a lot of EVs not yet available to us. The ones that are are not widely available. An example of this is if I want a Ford Focus Electric I need to travel almost to hours to the nearest dealership that Ford has authorized to sell EVs. I need to travel an hour to see a Leaf. If Illinois was a CARB state or did even remotely something to encourage EV sales, I would have more choices available to me and closer. If we want our EVs we need to put pressure on our states as well.

  9. pjwood says:

    It will be as much “gen I” falling into the hands of those making comparisons in the used 10k-20k pricepoints, as it will the tech advances of “gen 2″. Saving $1,500+ a year, by spending over 30k once sounded good to me. How should it sound to someone only investing 15k? How about lots, and lots of people, by this time?

    Charging Infrastructure, in the rental market, remains a serious issue.

  10. Gadge says:

    Availability, price, charging infrastructure will all contribute to the mass adoption of EV’s, but the game changer and beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine will be the metal/air of other advanced battery that will fuel an electric car for 500-1000 miles between charges…ICE on ICE I like to say!

  11. MDEV says:

    Policy is important, in Virginia if your car is old and smokes no tax. New cars get screw with yearly taxes of $100 per thousand. It is a way to encourage gas old vehicles, and discourage the purchase of new ones. Remember Tesla is ban to sell here. Assault rifles free tax yeahhh this is my Virginia.